The World Bank’s explosive report on Paul Wolfowitz was finally released late this afternoon and, as expected, it doesn’t back up Wolfie’s claim of a “smear campaign” against him.
In fact, the only smear is the slime trail left by Wolfie and his adviser Robin Cleveland (the Boeing-scandal figure he imported from the White House budget office) as they finagled a way-out-of-line sweetheart deal for Wolfie’s sweetheart, Shaha Ali Riza.
The most startling thing I’ve seen in an early perusal of the report is that Riza really screwed things up back in 2005 by demanding a huge pay raise once Wolfie unethically stepped into the fray on her behalf because, according to her, she had been screwed out of past raises by bank managers. That very well may have happened, but it threw a big monkey wrench into the works.
As I wade through the report, I wish I’d talked with Xavier Coll, at the time the bank’s vice president for human resources, when I broke the story in September 2005 that Wolfie had sent bank flack Riza to the State Department to work with Dick Cheney‘s daughter Liz. I had no idea back then that Wolfie and Cleveland had strong-armed the bank’s personnel director — as subsequent reports have said and as this new report confirms.
One particularly delicious excerpt from the report:
Which is immediately followed by this:
The way I read this report, the crucial period was August 10-12, 2005. On August 10, Coll met with Wolfie and Cleveland ” “in preparation for a meeting on August 11 with Ms. Riza.” The report continues:
Think about it: The bank’s personnel director is instructed by the bank president not to get this potentially hinky employment deal for the bank president’s girlfriend vetted by the bank’s lawyers. Oh, brother. Hell of a way to run a railroad or a war. This should tell you something about how we got so snarled in the Iraq debacle.
A digression: Wolfowitz told the bank board’s Ad Hoc Group investigating his behavior “that he had no clear recollection of the sequence of events.” On the other hand, Xavier Coll, the panel said, “presented the Ad Hoc Group with detailed recollection of the chronology of events based on contemporaneous records.” Hell, Cheney should have hired someone like Coll to plan the ill-fated and unjustified invasion, instead of letting Wolfie do it.
Anyway, on August 11, Coll met with Riza. She proposed a huge pay hike for herself, along with guaranteed promotions while she was being “seconded” to the State Department.
Riza, for her part, carried a grudge into that meeting. She much later told the Ad Hoc Group investigating committee that, in the report’s words, ” ‘two consecutive MENA [Middle East North Africa region] vice presidents’ had not promoted her due to ‘discrimination,’ because she is ‘a Muslim, Arabic woman who dares to question the status quo.’ ”
As I said, she may very well be right that she was a victim of discrimination, but the new report deals with her harshly on this:
Xavier Coll apparently didn’t think much of her strong-arming either. On August 12, the day after Coll met with Riza, he met with Wolfie and Cleveland again to discuss Riza’s proposed terms. The report goes on:
Somebody’s lying, and my money’s on Wolfowitz’s being the fibber. Moreover, the report notes:
The Ad Hoc Group notes in the record a document described by Mr. Wolfowitz as an “early draft” with Mr. Wolfowitz’s handwritten edits, in which Mr. Wolfowitz directs Mr. Coll to accept all of Ms. Riza’s terms.
But, hey, Wolfie says there were no rules, so he didn’t break any rules. He’s probably right: In his world, the two war fronts of Iraq and the World Bank, there were no rules.
I say “were” because he’ll be out of the World Bank very soon. Iraq is another matter, of course.